AFA Policy Forum
Lieutenant General Ronald E. Keys
Deputy Chief of Staff for Air and Space Operations
"Air Expeditionary Force Close-Up"
Air & Space Conference 2004—Washington, DC
September 14, 2004
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General Keys: I'm going to talk to you a little bit about air and space expeditionary forces, and
really what I want to go through is how did we get to air expeditionary force, why did we do it, how is it
working out, and then where is this thing called Air Expeditionary Force going to go? What's the future of it?
When we talk about speed, range, flexibility—the tenets of air power—that's integral to what we're talking
about when we talk about Air Expeditionary Forces. We're not going to fight a lot of our major battles here in
the United States with any luck at all. We've got to go somewhere else. We've got to get there quickly. We've
got to mass our effects, we've got to get the job done, then we've got to, we're finding out, roll that second
phase of people in there that are going to restore order and restore the operation of the country.
How do you do that? You need to have some concept of getting there, getting back. We used to call it, if you
remember, back in the days of the one line in Europe RSO&I [reception, staging, onward movement and integration].
That's what we're talking about. You've got to be able to pick up, pack up, get there, unpack, operate, pack up,
go home, dust off, and be ready to go. That's what the expeditionary force does for you.
Why did we go this way? It really came out of the time when we had Operation Northern Watch and Operation
Southern Watch operating. We had this rotational force. We're grinding away. For 12 years, if you remember, we
ground away. We got to the point that no one knew when they were going. It was like you'd just get home, the
phone would ring, and the wing commander on the other end says, “How long have you been here with us, not
counting tomorrow?” People were going right back out, turning back out, because for some reason the plan that
we had, it was a bid plan. Everybody came in and sort of bid and said, “We’d like to go here, we'd like to go
here, we'd like to go here.” Of course, then the bidding starts to get cross-wise with a lot of other kinds of
things. There was no predictability.
So the first thing is we needed predictability. It's not just the personal predictability, and that's
important. If you're going to have a family, going to have your family life, if your daughter's going to get
married in June, you'd probably like to be there when your daughter gets married in June. If the car needs to be
re-registered, then you'd like to plan on when you're going to have to have it re-registered, all of those kinds
of things in a personal life. You want to take some vacation. Maybe you'd like to go on a vacation with the
rest of your family and you'd like not to be in East Jesus somewhere unannounced. Personal predictability is
Also very important is professional predictability. I need to get you to Red Flag, I need to get you to Blue
Flag, I need to get you to ACSC, I need to get you to NCO Academy, I need to get you to a lot of things and if
you're constantly being jerked around, then I can't fill the slots, so I've got too many instructors with not
enough students. I've got people who are not getting the training they need. So it gives me a way to flow out,
particularly as a wing commander. I can flow out where I need to go so I'm ramped up and I'm peaked and I'm
ready to roll and as we tell everybody, when you're in the bucket, you're in the window of vulnerability, you
have your bag packed, you're sitting on the end of the bed, you've got your hand over the phone, and when it
rings, you're gone. Green, you're gone. That's kind of the simple way to explain it. It gives you personal
and it gives you professional predictability.
It gives me a sustainable deployment capability also. It gives me a way to start stacking the Air Force up.
I know whose going; I know who I need to direct resources to because I never have enough money to buy 100% of
everything. So if I’ve got problems and I know that AEF-5 and 6 are going to deploy in six months, I can start
to make some decisions on who's going to get what. So the leading edge of this AEF is always primed and ready to
go in an era of shortages.
It also optimizes readiness. When we come home we don't go into tiered readiness. Everybody comes home. As
soon as you're unpacked and dusted off you could go again, because in a lot of scenarios the force of first
resort is going to be the Air Force.
As we look at where we are today in Iraq, for example, we've pulled a lot of land forces out of Korea.
Backing up that land force now are bombers on Guam, for example; more fighters downrange; and more people on
prepared-to-deploy orders. So when you come back from where you were, you're still not done. You still have to
have some sort of readiness. So we needed a balance. How long are you gone with your readiness starting to
decay, perhaps, certainly in certain specialties, with the constant churn of sending people downrange? So we
looked at those kinds of balances.
I talked about how you can surge, put the whole Air Force on-line. It was the people in AEF-7 and 8 who
happened to be in Iraq when the decision was made, “okay, we're going to go to war.” So they, having a good
sense humor, made a patch. It's a picture of a dog sitting down, and it says, "AEF-7 and 8. Sit. Stay."
That's what happened. They were frozen in place. Then we rolled in the rest of the AEFs on top of them until
we got the size of the force that we needed.
The great thing about it is it also gives you sort of an FIFO approach to unfolding the force and bringing it
back home. Who needs to go? Who's going to stay? All the time that I've got this huge force gone, things are
happening at home. People are showing up at the door, no airplanes to fly, no NCOs to train them, no OJT going
on, so your force is starting to accumulate as it comes out of the schoolhouse, but the force is not maturing.
So now you've got to have a plan to work through all of those backlogs and this AEF concept gives you a way to
look at those backlogs and how are we going to work our way through, and when are we going to be ready to go,
back in sequence, all dusted off with a new suit of clothes, ready to roll when the call comes.
When you look at an AEF pair, this is what it looks like. Essentially, we took the Air Force and we divided
it by ten. So that's 359,000. Actually, we have more than that right now because we're in an overage situation,
but let's say 379,000 active duty. You've got about another quarter of a million in various stages of the Air
Reserves and the Air Guard. Then you've got another 170,000 civilians. You divide that by ten—it won't divide
by ten, so now you've got more or less the same capability in each one of these AEF pairs. Those are the folks
that go downrange.
There are volunteers in a mobilization. As I run through the Air Force, 25% of what gets done in our Air
Force every day, day in and day out, gets done by volunteers from my ARG. They're that important to my Total
Force concept. That's a little bit different Total Force concept than any of the other services use. That's one
of those concepts we have to make sure that we preserve as we start jiggering things around and trying to
rebalance the force. That's a great talent and a great capability.
Then with full mobilization you start to see what we can do. When you go down to those operating locations,
you look at austere locations, simultaneous opening capability. You start to find out where the short poles are
in the tent. You find out it's not an iron, it's not in shooters, it may not be in tankers, it's not in
strategic airlift, it's in putting up the tents and feeding people and protecting the bases that you have.
We opened over 35 bases around the environs of Afghanistan and Iraq for the wars over there. That's a lot of
extra bases to open and protect and feed and keep operating and put the comm in and keep the water running and
the lights on and all the rest of that sort of stuff. So that's what we have in our AEF pairs.
As I said, you don't run out of everything at once. There are certain skills that you start to run out
before. Now you've got to reach ahead to the next AEF or you've got to extend people in place.
This is kind of how it works. You just go through, you go downrange 120 days, you come back, and you’ve got
a 16-month spin-up cycle. That doesn't mean you're home smoking a Lucky. When you're home, you're doing things
like Red Flag and you're going to school and you're doing the part task trainers, and you're getting yourself
back up, you're sending the airplanes through PDM and all the kinds of stuff. Does that mean you can't go? No,
it doesn't mean you can't go. It just means you're not scheduled to go. So I'm going to give you predictability
absent a war. When a war happens, then everybody runs to that side of the boat, it's a Code Blue, and we're all
going to run over there and jump on it, and then we'll all come home.
So we've got some sort of way to approach not only going to war, but we can actually approach training now so
we can get the people to the right places.
One of the challenges that we have here is we've got to be able to get this stuff on the joint platter, too.
There are a lot of drivers with this. This is not just an Air Force driven kind of thing. I contribute forces
to joint training, for example. So if I've got a joint training in the wrong place, I've got people that are
just doing their part task spin-up and they're not ready for the big joint fight.
There's engagement. As we look at the new lay-down of forces around the world, there's going to be more
requirements for forces to go somewhere, to do something, because there won't be a wing of airplanes in a certain
area that can provide six airplanes to go downrange and fly with one of our allies or potential allies. That's
got to come from somewhere.
So we're starting to get back into the recent history where we had checkered flag. Where squadrons would
pick up their squadron and they'd go somewhere and plug into an established base for 30 days and you'd work
through all of your Central Europe tasking. About every two years you'd do that. We probably won't take that
large a force, but we're going to take a lot of different forces in. And it won't just be the flying portion of
our force. We're going to be taking civil engineers, we're going to be taking lawyers, we're going to be taking
all the specialties we have in the Air Force, particularly with emerging nations, to teach them how we do
My last assignment was the 16th Air Force Commander. My US headquarters was in Aviano. My NATO headquarters
was in Naples and I had lots of requests from the emerging nations in NATO, they wanted to come to Aviano. They
didn't want to see the F-16s, they wanted to see how the comm squadron is set up. They want to see how do we do
supply. They want to know how we maintain our vehicles. That's the kind of stuff. That goes into this AEF on
the engagement side.
In theory, this is the way it was going to work when we got to war. Seven and eight froze, we brought in
nine and ten, one and two rolled in on top of them, three and four. Then when it came time to come home, I'm
trying now to take this jumble of numbers here and I need to get it reset into some sort of organization, so
once again, I've got to have the predictability. The idea was to bring in the remaining nine and ten, the
remaining one and two. We'd do that for 120 days, then we'd bring in three, four, five and six, and in about
March of '04 we would have been back on-line.
Well, there's a surge and there's a sustainable. We believe that we can take two AEFs and they can be gone
forever. We'll just keep grinding through the force. We can do that without significant impact on our force.
You get to four, we can do that for a year. We get much beyond a year and we're starting to buy into some
tremendous capability impacts. PDMs on the airplanes, getting people to school, it starts to ripple through the
This is what we did. You can see where we are. We're in a really stressed situation right now. We've got
bombers at Guam, we've got fighters in the Pacific. We've got somewhere around 36,000 people gone on any day.
That's more than we have in the two AEFs.
Here are the lessons that we learned. Nothing's equally divisible by ten, so we've had to figure out how to
rebalance the force. We've taken, for example, 3,500 folks and retrained them into security forces because we
needed people. We put $351 million into technology for security forces so we wouldn't need another 4,000 people
to try and balance that. As you open all these bases, you've got to guard those bases. Someone's got to be
there with the weapons inside the fence line.
Something's always the short pole. I'll tell you what most of them are. Intelligence, you need more
intelligence than we have right now. I need more services than I can drum together right now in one AEF. Civil
engineering and Red Horse, you need more of that; security forces. There's about 17 stressed career fields that
we track, and we're looking at where do we take from other career fields to make the stress less without breaking
those other career fields.
When we started this thing, we put about 170,000 folks out of that huge number in the AEF. What we have now
is about 260,000 in. You go, “why isn't there 359,000?” Well, because I'm running a bunch of cities out there.
I can't close the base. I've got to make sure that when my fighting forces go off to war that they feel
confident that their family members are going to be protected. They're going to be healthy, they'll have the
services they require, so I can't pull everybody out without starting to shut down Air Force bases. That's not
going to work. That's one of the reasons this AEF has to ripple through the force.
The other thing is that, in order to do this, some of that force can be reached back for. For example, when
we had the Global Hawk over Baghdad, everything it saw was going back by SATCOM to Reno, Nevada, to an Air Guard
outfit who was looking at that through the distributed common ground station, annotating the target, sending it
back to the air operation center, the air operation center is tasking the airplanes to go kill targets. It was
done by reach back.
When we talk about balancing the force, that's one of the things … How much can we balance out by using reach
Another thing we're looking at right now is what we call expeditionary AFSCs. We could put all 359,000 people
in the AEF. That would be relatively painless to actually put them in it, but I don't have a big call for
nuclear missile firing people. Command and control of nuclear missiles, I just don't deploy that a lot. I've
got nuclear scientists in the labs. I've got some really smart people who at times could be available to fill
some skills needed downrange, but the skill they're primary in is not one of them.
So then the question is how do I train them to do those things they'd be good at? AFMC is working through a
program because they've got some smart folks that want to go downrange and they can be integrated right into a
Combined Air Operations Center relatively easy. Again, doing the things you have to do with a little bit of
training is not nuclear physics. You don't need 35 years of experience to do that, but you need to understand
the employment of air and space power.
So those are the things we're looking at now. Rather than having a primary and secondary AFSC, have a primary
AFSC and then have your expeditionary AFSC. It may be the same one you carry prime or it may be something else.
The other danger of that, everybody needs to be in, but everybody can't go all the time. Everybody can't be
gone. Somebody's got to be at home. How do you make the priority on who's going and ripple that through your
force so the same person doesn't go all the time?
The Air Reserve components, they have special requirements. Whether or not they're mobilized, how long
they're going to be there, all of those have to be factored into how you're going to operate. Because on the
other end, the combatant commanders have special requirements, too.
If you're flying, for example, F-16s, 120 days may be doable. We think it is doable and we think it's the
right balance in getting that weaponry home and keeping it up on the step, but if you're on the ground and
you're a contracting officer or you're on the ground with a civil affairs team or you're on the ground with a
Red Horse team that's doing public works in a country, then the tendency is maybe it would be better for you to
stay there longer and not go as often because it's important for you to make those personal contacts, know who
you're talking to, and can you believe them. So that starts to affect how I do my AEF.
One of the things we found is the end of tour reports and the lessons observed of people downrange. You
find out that people get down there and they say, “I went down there to do X, but I was really doing Y and I
really wasn't trained to do Y.” So we feed that back into our training cycles so that the people that are
picked up to go and fill certain slots are actually trained to do those kinds of things.
For example, you send a system admin guy—we're always short of someone to secure and protect our
computers—but if he's a specialist on Windows NT and they're operating on some other system down here, that's
not very helpful. And in some instances we don't have the shred-outs in our AFSCs to say, “What’s the
particular specialty that these folks have?” A lawyer is not a lawyer is not a lawyer. I need to have a
lawyer that specializes in the law of armed conflict, that understands rules of engagement, etc, etc. If
someone doesn't have experience doing that, sending him downrange into combat is not the place to pick up that
experience, so we have to figure out how do we do that? How do we make sure that we know that when that
request for forces comes from our combatant commander we understand no kidding what it is he wants so we send
the right kids of people? So it's a constant review, the skills; do we have the right ones?
Right now we've got people driving convoys with the Army because the Army is stretched so thin they're
running out of people to drive the big trucks. So I've got Air Force folks driving six-bys. In fact, we've
had them hit by the Iraqis. They've been in ambushes. We've lost some. That's something that six months ago
if someone would have said, “have you got any six-by drivers?” I'd go, “hell no, I don't drive six-bys. I'm
sort of a pickup truck kind of operation.” But we had to go back in and train them and make sure they
understood what they're getting into.
Some other things that you review—the tour length that I talked about, the organization. You go to Balad,
for example, you go to Kirkuk, and you go to any of those bases where we're operating. It's a matter of how
will our organization plug into the larger organization, the forces that are on the ground? We have a base
defense operations center inside the wire. Outside the wire, you're going to have a tactical operation center
manned by some brigade folks. You've got to make sure you've got a wire that goes all the way through there so
that when something happens we can talk about it. So when we have an airplane coming in, we can get somebody
out there in the keyhole so we don't constantly take these SA-7 shots. So that becomes a big issue. And it's
not only the organization, it's also the training. And the understanding of the doctrine of the sister service
you're going to work with and the equipment. It doesn't do you any good to have the right organization, the
right training, and then the plug doesn't go in the socket, it won't work. We need to have that sort of
That was something that when we looked at doctrine initially, the Army has signed up to defending the rear
area. You go to Iraq and tell me where the rear area is, and you look at what they're trying to do in
patrolling out there. I've got airplanes coming in, big airplanes, that are getting shot at. How do we
rationalize doing business the way we're doing?
We're getting better, we're getting smarter, but it took some close calls in order to figure out, “whoa,
this is not going to work.” There is no front line, there is no rear area. We've got to work together on
Now, the really tough part of this is changing the battle rhythm of the entire Air Force. It's got to run
with that AEF. Let me tell you, it does not. We talk about being light, lean and lethal, and then someone
gives me a fire truck. It takes a C-17 to carry the damn thing downrange. I've got to have something that's
light, lean and lethal. I need a pickup truck that can put out a C-5 fire without having to take a C-5 down
there to carry the damn truck down there. It ain't going to work. So we've got to understand what's available
out there. If it's smaller, if I can get it there quicker, if it's maintainable.
Along with that, you look at the way we do our Professional Military Education. I need ways that when people
come off of the AEF, I can start them whenever I'm ready to start them. I don't have to wait until 1 August or
1 June or 1 July. So we've gone with our Air Command and Staff College, we've divided it up into three areas.
And brilliantly enough we call them Phase 1, Phase 2 and Phase 3. And it doesn't' have to go one, two and three.
If you bail out of your AEF, you come home and get all dusted off, you can now start ACSC in Phase 2, then get
Phase 3, then get Phase 1, then graduate and go on to the greater good of the Air Force. We have got to work
that in all of our training sorts of operations. We have got to look deep within our Air Force.
For example, AETC is doing a great job because they've looked at the way their courses are structured, and
some courses they complete and then there's a period of time before the next course is ready to start. They
said some of our instructors could go on an AEF deployment during that time period. In fact, it would be very
good for them because they'd get to go out for a short period of time, refresh their skills, find out what's
really going on down there in the area that they're teaching, and come back and they're much more credible
instructors. It takes a little bit of pressure off the rest of the force.
So changing that battle rhythm is important. I think hardly a month goes by that somebody doesn't bring me a
rule that just is cross-wise with the way we're doing business in 10 AEFs. Embarrassingly enough, I go, “Who in
the hell wrote this?” I look at the bottom of it and it says OPR, Air Force XO. So we've had to go through and
find out what things are structured for a rotational kind of operation in our Air Force and make sure that the
battle rhythm of the Air Force is driven by the battle rhythm of the AEF. That's the reason we're here. It's
not to be home and happy and sunning ourselves in the backyard. Our job is to go and fight America's wars and
win them when called upon to do so. Whether that involves saving people, watching people, or killing people.
So we've got to structure ourselves and we've got to understand that's where we go, that's what we do in the
United States Air Force.
Where are we going? Today here's what we're working on. We all have this legacy force. When I say ‘all,’
that's us in the joint force and us in the coalition force. We all have this stuff that we bought. Then we had
this epiphany and went, “oh, wouldn't it be great if we could all work together and all the electrons would flow
and everything?” Yeah, it would.
For example, the Joint Tactical Radio System. If I were to take all of my airplanes and give them Joint
Tactical Radio System and integrate them, it would cost between $20 and $40 billion. Now that's a big between,
but it doesn't really matter because I don't have $20 billion to begin with. So I've got to set some hard
decision points on who's going to get it just as a radio and who's going to get it that actually web-enables
them. Interoperable modules.
As we work through the joint force, the Navy has gone to a concept, a surge concept on their carrier strike
forces and their expeditionary strike groups. The fact that they can over a fairly short period of time get six
carriers out in the water at the same time, you haven't seen that in a long time. They've tested it lately, but
you go back five or ten years and say, “when did they ever have six carrier groups all out operating at one time?”
So they have essentially engineered their deployment operation so they can in fact surge the force. Then it
gives them a way to come back down.
You look at the Army, General Schoomaker has looked at the Army and said, “when I look at my brigades, an
infantry brigade is not an infantry brigade across the force. They're different. They're organized differently.
So they're not even plug and playable if I take the infantry brigades.”
So he's going to have four brigades in each division. Each brigade's going to be self contained. It will
have combat support and combat services and it will have aviation and it will have, it will have, it will have.
So if you need to have a division somewhere you can take a brigade here who just finished training and one here
and one here and one here, so they're all just topped off, drop them down with another division headquarters on
top of them and they can in fact operate. That's a huge change, a huge cultural change in the Army.
So he's working more or less like we're working in the AEF. We're working equivalent effects forces. We've
looked at what you get with a carrier strike group and we looked at what you get with an AEF. So there are force
So when the COCOM says, “I have got to have…” Number one, we're trying to break him of saying, “I have got
to have a carrier with the hull number 76 on it,” or, “I've got to have the 71st Tactical Fighter Squadron.” I
want him to ask me, “I need to have X numbers of orbits of EOISR and I need it 24/7 for a week at a time, and I
need six orbits of defensive counter-air.” So once he gives me that sort of request, now I can start to plug
and play. If the Navy is not bringing the carrier group in, what would I deploy out of my AEF so we can backstop
each other when something happens that we're not going to meet our rotation? So equivalent effects forces,
that's something we're doing right today.
The collaborative force protection. The fact that we're all in this together, so now we have to figure out
about how we hook ourselves together. We're spending a lot of time with Predators and fighters airborne and our
TACPs and special tactics guys on the ground providing precision effects to the guys on the ground. We also need
some of that. When I get mortars fired at Balad, I want some 105 howitzer rounds going out. I want someone
helping me collaboratively with the same sort of precision fire that I'm providing to the Army. So we're working
through how do you do that—these joint precision fires. Then, of course, the legacy integration that I talked
We're starting to work through the joint capabilities. Meaning, for example, in my XOR I've got three Navy
guys that work in the Air Force requirements, which gives them the visibility into what the Air Force is talking
about in requirements and I have guys who interface with the Navy requirement so I understand what they're trying
to work through. We picked the Navy because obviously the other two great air forces of the world besides ours
reside in the Navy and the Marines. We can work through these kinds of things so that at the bottom at least we
understand what the backbone's going to look like. We know what the architecture's going to look like, don't
care what the actual thing is that plugs in, but it's going to flow information across our forces. Those sorts
of joint capabilities.
It's changed from this interoperability, it's changed to interdependence. In order for the Army to do the
Future Combat System, for example, and do the contemporary operating environment, the Army has said the way to
transform is you've got to get rid of water, you've got to get rid of fuel, and you've got to get rid of ammo.
That's the bulk of the logistics in the Army. Every 500 pound bomb that I can drop with precision for someone
forward is 500 pounds of munitions that someone doesn't have to truck to the front, feed the drivers, protect
the drivers, keep the truck running, turn the truck back around, drive him back down to get more stuff, and keep
this red ball express running. So if he wants something light, lean and lethal, that's the way you do it, but
you've got to make really sure that the guy who says he's going to provide you precision long-range fire no
kidding shows up with the goods when you need it.
So that's the concept we're working through. The joint operating concepts also. How do we work together on
either a sequence plan or a plan that goes entirely together? To the point that eventually there will be a Joint
Expeditionary Force? Not just an AEF, it will be a JEF. We will habitually train together and have this plug
and play interoperability. Not that we'll be formed in standing strike forces, but we will have enough of the
interoperability that we can pick up and plug and play. Right now the tactics, techniques and procedures are not
the problem. If someone on the ground calls for close air support and I've got a TACP down there, Navy air,
Marine Air, Air Force air or coalition air, we use the same TTP. That part worked. The problem is do you get
Blue Force Tracker? Do you get the coordinates squirted up or does someone have to do it by voice? So that sort
of plug and play interoperability is what we've got to work to in the future.
That's all about the AEF, all you probably wanted to know and more, but that's the future of the Air Force,
and the Air Expeditionary Force—light, lean, lethal, pick up, pack up, go, fight, pack up, come home, be ready to
do it again. Without overstressing the force, without driving people out of the Air Force, without losing the
tremendous capability that we have from our civilians and our Air Reserve forces.
Q: General, Kirk Lenies from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. I was wondering if you could give us
what you see as the outlook for our Reservists and Guard as they play into this, and as they've been under a lot
of stress with a lot of deployments as well. What's your view on it and how that may impact our Reservists of
General Keys: Here's the problem we have. I call it a problem. It's really not a problem. This is
just the way the world is. My Guard and my Reserve are my rainy day force. My problem is in Iraq it's been a
rainny month. They are the folks that I call on in extremis to mobilize, join with me, fight the war, come home,
and demobilize. A lot of the things that I have in my Guard and Reserves are things that I don't need a lot of
during peacetime. C-130s are a good example. There's not a tremendous call for the capabilities of a great
airplane during peacetime, but you get into a country as large as Iraq that we're still fighting in and we're
trying to supply people in far-flung, very far-flung airfields. C-130s are stuff that you need and 70% of them
are in my Guard and Reserve forces, so that starts to create a situation in my Guard and Reserve that it was not
designed to be a forever force. It's designed to be a force that we ramp up, we go to war, we get it done, we
come back down, or whatever we can do at 25% of the force. So now we're trying to work through.
In order to be relevant I've got to be able to use the Guard and Reserve. So the question is do we have the
right stuff in the Guard and Reserve? Should we have more Predators in the Guard and Reserve, for example?
Should we have more what we call MANFOR units, which are the folks that fall in on the Air Operation Center when
I want to generate more sorties? Should I have more intelligence and analysis in the Guard and Reserve? Should
I take advantage of some sort of partnering with the Guard and Reserve on the maintenance side? I've got a lot
of talent in the Guard and Reserve. There are guys that I flew with in F-4s. They can walk up to an F-16, put
their hand on it and go, “yeah, number bearing's about to go on that one.” We need to pull that thing out of
there. They don't need a borescope, they just have the experience. They can do those kinds of things. Those
are the kind of guys I need teaching my young kids how to maintain airplanes. So we're looking at how do we do
Do we need more of the Guard and Reserve in our schoolhouses to release more of the active duty back into the
force? I think you're going to see some adjustments both across the Guard and the Reserves. Already at the
Joint Stars down at Warner Robbins we have a blended unit. You've got active duty and you've got Guardsmen.
That creates its own set of issues because you have the traditional Guardsman, you've got civilians, unionized
civilians, you’ve got Title 32 versus Title 10. We've got to work through all those things because the combat
capability of the Joint Stars and the performance of that unit can't be denied, but the administrative things
occasionally have become a chocolate mess. We've got it straightened out through a lot of good people doing the
right things, but those are the kinds of issues that we're going to have to work through. This is not easy.
Q: Sir, Master Sergeant Kenneth Moore from Incirlik, Turkey. I happen to be one of those individuals
in one of those stressed career fields that appears to spend a lot more time in the desert than I do home; and
then when I am home, it's not tanning in the sun. Normally it's 14-16 hour work days away from the family and
experiencing some of the difficulty that I experienced in the desert, other than being shot at or playing attack
You mentioned stress career fields, you mentioned training, you mentioned AEF rotations as trying to get on
track and taking a period of time for all that to equal out. It all boils down to me to be the same factor of
just not having enough people to do all this with. Having enough people would ease a lot of the discomforts that
we have as far as having the time to train those people up to par or easing some of those rotations that occur so
frequently, or just having the bodies to compensate at times of need. It doesn't seem to be entertained. I'm
just wondering why we don’t consider an increase in people.
A: We've got 20,000 more people than we're supposed to have right now. We're still stressed and a lot
of it is because we've got them in the wrong place. We've got them in forces that aren't being used at the rate
forces like you, security forces or Red Horse or services or things like that are being used. The big problem is
that it takes time to make any sort of impact. If I move 3,500 people into security forces, for example, but
let's say they're a tech sergeant or a master sergeant, they've only got six months in the field, so they don't
have the experience that you really need.
It takes, if you want to have a three- or five-year experience kind of person, it's going to take you three to
five years to do that. That's the fact of the matter.
We have changed our accessions. We're taking more people in at the bottom and putting them in those stressed
career fields. It doesn't do any good until an Airman gets through Lackland, gets to a unit, starts spinning up,
and becomes a usable round. So you're absolutely right. That's part of the reason a career field gets stressed.
It’s not the amount of time it's deployed, but it's also the percentage of folks that are at home. That's a
stress also. If you're at home, but you're still working 12 or 14 hours, that doesn't do you any good.
People say, “well, why don't we just add 100,000 people to the Air Force?” Because we can't afford to add
them. You're talking about the most expensive thing we buy—people. It's billions of dollars, and there's going
to be no more money, there's going to be less money. So you'll end up with a lot of unstressed people, but you
won't have any equipment to operate. So you're trying to balance the risk. There's nothing we're doing that's
getting 100 percent what it needs and that's the business that we're in. It’s balancing risk, and balancing
money to get the best force we can based on what our constraints are.
Q: Adam Hebert, AIR FORCE Magazine. I was hoping you could talk a bit more about this idea of
expeditionary AFSCs. If missileers and scientists are deploying to the combat theaters, what types of jobs will
they be doing?
A: Sure. We've got a lot of smart people in the Air Force. They're the best Air Force in the world
and they can learn other skills. In fact, the positive is that everybody ought to understand how to control air
and space power. So could someone who's a scientist actually be someone who allocates tanker sorties in the Air
Operation Center? Yeah. No reason not.
Some of the folks in AFMC, for example, probably actually worked on the software that's in the module that's
in the Air Operation Center. Could they do that? Sure they could.
Some of the folks that are working on developing some of the logistics advances, could they come out and work
in some of the back shops? Yeah, they could.
Now there's a danger. That's the easy answer and the easy answer is always wrong. If I've got someone who is
the absolute world-class program manager of this one silver bullet program, do I want to pull them out just to
send them to the expeditionary force? So there actually is room in this for some common sense. You'll gut shoot
yourself if you send the wrong people out. We hired them to be experts in certain areas.
If they're in an area or in a time that they can be sent TDY, then we ought to have a skill that they can go
in. We've had a lot of requests from people, “hey, I've not been anywhere. I want to go somewhere.” You go,
“well, nuclear weapon scientist. Just don't have a big call for that.” So we need to figure out how to take
advantage of those folks. The first thing we looked at is what are the shortages? Obviously, you're not going
to take someone who's let's say a satellite controller and make him or her into a Serbo-Croatian linguist.
That's not worthwhile, unless they happen to already speak that at home.
So those are the kinds of things you're trying to go through and find out where's the smart place, where are
the areas, and you're going to find out there's a certain number of people that it's just not worth it because
they are so talented and so needed in the thing that they're doing, you don't want to put a secondary AFSC, or
expeditionary AFSC on them. It's counterproductive. But we're looking at all of those.
If you remember back in the old days, and maybe we still do it, I don't know ... We had this program called
Blue Four in which our engineers from AFMC, I don't think it was AFMC at the time, but they came out to a couple
of my fighter units and they actually were crawling around underneath the airplanes looking at things they
designed. They put the gloves on up there in Alaska and the crew chief says, “Okay, reach up in there and see
if you can mate that bolt in there. There's no way in hell you can do it. Why did you build it like that?” So
those kinds of learning outcomes are important to getting people down in the Expeditionary Air Force, too. So
they can see how it works in what I call the mud and the blood and the beer. It worked great in the garage, but
what if it's not worth a damn out there in the valley of death?
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